Joe Effiong, Uyo
Akwa Ibom State government has muted plans to increase the number of aircrafts in the Ibom Air fleet as well as expand the airline to attract more investors and tourists to the state.
The four-month-old Ibom Air which is said to be a whole state government-owned airline, currently, has only three aircraft which equally fly different route such as Uyo- Lagos, Uyo – Abuja and Lagos- Abuja.
This proposal was one of the administration’s inputs of 2020 budget of the state tagged: Budget of Industrialization for Poverty Alleviation Phase II which Gov Udom Emmanuel presented to the state House of Assembly on Tuesday, with a size of N597.8 billion.
The governor, however, never allocated any specific amount to the “Aviation Development” sector unlike agriculture which the state promised to spend about N12.4 billion since the governor said his “administration places premium on the growth and development of agriculture to enhance food security and provide raw materials for industrial use and exports, job and wealth creations, as well as improved revenue generation to the government.”
He said in 2020, government intends to carry out agro-meteorological project, commercial cattle development project, cocoyam, avocado pear production, bamboo development programme, integrated farmers scheme, women agro-entrepreneurship development programme (WAEDEP), cassava development programme, animal feed safety and certification programme, among others.
On education which the state expects to spend N11,45 billion, the government told the state House of Assembly that it places a high premium on education, and skill development and acquisition.
“To achieve more successes in this sector, we will continue to provide the basic facilities like libraries, science laboratories, instructional materials, workshop equipment etc. for distribution to our school children in public school system. Renovation and construction of more classroom and academic blocks, securing full accreditation of academic programmes, ensuring effective and efficient capacity building, recruitment of teachers, payment of bursary and scholarships to our students and providing boarding facilities to ensure a controlled and disciplined learning environment will be a continuous affair.”
The estimate for the health sector appears to have been scaled down as the sector commanded only N4.9 billion despite the governor’s declaration that “government considers healthcare to be the absolute right of every individual and to ensure effective health care delivery, government will continue to implement the policy of free medical treatment for children of five years and below, pregnant women, and the elderly of 70 years and above.
“In 2020, government will continue to support the health sector to provide qualitative health services to the people of the state.
“This will be done by continued rehabilitation of health facilities; procurement and distribution of equipment to health institutions; provision of Medical Emergency Response Services; construction of the State Public Health Laboratory; procurement of incinerators and a specialized truck for bio-medical waste; provision for immunization programme, HIV and malaria treatment; restructuring of Emergency Operation Centres in the state and others. For all programmes and projects in this sector, the sum of N4.590 billion proposed in the 2020 budget.”